A WOMAN from Dyserth has urged her energy provider for additional support following the recent passing of her husband and ongoing billing issues.

Shereen Harrison’s husband, Stephen, died on March 29, which she said followed his admission to hospital with double pneumonia, having also fought a chest infection for a number of weeks.

Previously, Mrs Harrison had told the Journal that she was in almost £2,000 of debt with ScottishPower, who she changed to more than two years ago, and so could not celebrate Christmas, new year or their recent wedding anniversary.

A letter shown to the Journal, addressed from British Gas Energy Trust to Mrs Harrison, showed that the organisation has awarded her a grant of £1,278.19 towards paying off her electricity bills.

But after saying she had not received a bill from ScottishPower since December, Mrs Harrison, who currently makes monthly payments of £240, has now been told she still owes the company £900.

Currently living in her property with her two sons, she said is still considering whether she will have to move to a smaller home as a consequence.


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She said: “Between December and now, I’ve apparently used nearly £2,000 worth of electricity.

“I’ve been paying £240 every month, from December to now: that’s more than £1,000 worth of electricity that I’ve paid for. And I still owe £900 now. There’s no way I’m going through £2,000 worth of electricity in six months.”

“I'm getting passed from pillar to post, told to do one thing then another.

“If we didn't have to choose between heating or oxygen, I don't think he (Stephen) would have been ill as he was. We were going through the cold months with no heating.

“My money is going to dramatically drop. Paying £240 every month at the moment, I'm only just about managing. You get a certain amount of time with losing a partner to adjust to that and not worry about money.

“But that's going to change in June, so I don’t know whether I can still afford the £240 I’m paying, or whether that's how much I should be paying.”

On the grant issued to her by the trust, who helps people in, or at risk of, financial hardship to make their energy payments and manage their finances, Mrs Harrison expressed her gratitude and relief, but admitted those feelings were “short-lived”.

Mrs Harrison has continued to urge ScottishPower to have a check meter installed at her property, to enable her to be able to monitor her electrical usage.

A ScottishPower spokesperson had previously said a Customer Liaison Officer has already carried out a “clamp test” at Mrs Harrison’s meter, which confirmed it was recording correctly.

Previously, billing errors also led to Mrs Harrison being advised that her payments should be £200 per week, for which ScottishPower has apologised and amended.

Prior to Stephen’s passing, she said he suffered from numerous medical conditions and was receiving oxygen therapy.

Having lodged seven complaints to ScottishPower in the last year, she was previously given an ultimatum by her husband: to keep his oxygen on and the heating off, or vice-versa.

She later received an apology from ScottishPower after the representative managing her complaint asked her why she didn’t temporarily turn off her husband’s oxygen machine.

She added: “Nothing like that ever happens to someone like me, and the fact that it actually happened was a relief at the time.

“But it was short-lived, that relief, because I’m dealing with the issues that I’ve got with ScottishPower.

“We're still no further ahead with a check meter. I know quite a few people who have asked for check meters recently and got one sorted out with no problem.

“I'm still waiting, and I'm willing to pay for the check meter to be put in myself.

“But it seems like ScottishPower are doing whatever it takes not to do it, to prove there's nothing wrong with the machine. They want to just carry on with the way it is.

“The conversation we had with the man (from ScottishPower) who told me to turn off the oxygen machine - I asked for the subject access request which is supposed to record all telephone conversations. That particular phone call wasn't on there.

“They then phoned me and apologised, saying they didn't know the severity of my husband’s health. But that's why we joined ScottishPower, because they promised us everything would be sorted out for my husband’s health issues, so they did know.”

Mrs Harrison said Mind, the mental health charity, and Citizens Advice, have also tried to help her, but with little success.

She added: “All I keep getting now is that it's with the Ombudsman ScottishPower team. I've tried emailing them, but have had nothing from them. Mind and Citizens Advice have also done the same.

“The morning after they found out my husband had passed away, I had an email from them saying I'd been taking off their priority list.

“They're quick enough to do things like that, and to demand money from us, but when it's us trying to sort out bills, so that we're not in debt with them, they can't sort it out.

“I want a check meter putting in, and I want to know if there's a payment plan that is feasible for me to be able to come up with to stay in this property.

“At the moment, I'm struggling to even put food on my plate. I've had to go to the doctors and I'm on strong antidepressants.

“I don't want to be taking them. It's gone on far too long. I've lost my world.

“They have no consideration for someone who’s just lost their husband, either. They haven’t apologised for the way I’ve been treated, or sent me condolences. There’s been none of that from ScottishPower.”

Amid the current cost of living crisis, Mrs Harrison said she also wanted to speak out about her current predicament in the hope in that would encourage others in similar situations to not “sit in silence".

She added: “Other people are suffering the same thing – they’re probably sat there in silence, thinking there’s nothing they can do about it.

“I just want to bring it to their attention that there is. Don’t sit in silence.”

A ScottishPower spokesperson said a formal written apology will be made to Mrs Harrison, as well as a £60 goodwill payment.

The spokesperson added that the possibility of installing a check meter will be explored, and offered its condolences to Mrs Harrison for the loss of her husband

The spokesperson said: “We’re sorry for Mrs Harrison’s loss and understand what a difficult time this has been for her.

“We’ve now rebilled her account and confirmed there is an outstanding balance of around £900 and a payment plan has been agreed for this.

“We’ve also agreed to bill her monthly ongoing usage at £200 at the moment until we see if it is possible for a check meter to be installed to assess her energy usage.

“While Mrs Harrison had not accepted the remedy put forward by the Energy Ombudsman, we’re happy to implement this and will be writing to her with a formal apology and making a goodwill payment of £60.

“We will continue to keep in contact with her while we move all of this forward and apologise again for the issues she has experienced.”

A British Gas Energy Trust spokesperson added: “The British Gas Energy Trust’s mission is to help alleviate the detrimental impact of poverty. We would encourage everyone to seek help during this incredibly difficult time.

“There are dedicated organisations working in communities across Wales which can help find a way of improving people’s situations.

“We fund an excellent organisation Riverside Advice in Cardiff who can also help if you’re local to them – but really, your energy provider should listen to you if you are struggling and do what they can to help.”